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24/09/2010

From the Feuilletons

From the Feuilletons is a weekly overview of what's been happening in the German-language cultural pages and appears every Friday at 3 pm. CET.. Here a key to the German newspapers.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 18.09.2010

In an interview with Felicitas von Lovenberg, Nobel laureate Herta Müller talks about her initial response to the news that the late poet Oskar Pastior, whose 5 years in a Gulag she described in her last novel "Everything I Own I Carry With Me" (excerpt), was a Securitate informant in the 1960s: "His file paints a sinister picture of Romania in the '50s and '60s. The prisons were full. On returning home from the gulag, Pastior the crate nailer and builder, could begin university in Bucharest at long last. Exhausted but obstinate as ever, he just wanted a return to normality and to take control of his own life again. But it was to be confiscated from him one more time. His file shows them closing in on him from all sides.... Freed from the camp he was suddenly fair game for everyone. My second reaction to the news was sympathy. And the longer I turn the details over in my head, the more this has turned to grief."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 18.09.2010

Thomas David talks to Flemish theatre director Luk Perceval the artistic director at Hamburg's Thalia theatre, about his directorial interests: "I believe that my plays often show a state of depression – veiled depression. This is as prevalent in 'Othello' and 'Death of a Salesman', as in 'L. King of Pain', the version of 'King Lear' which I showed two years ago, in Zurich and elsewhere. In this case depression led to dementia. What interests me is the desperate struggle with desire; a struggle from which we never seem to be able to free ourselves."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 21.09.2010

The Seattle-based cartoonist Molly Norris rose to fame with her drawings of Mohammed and her "South-Park" inspired "Everybody draw Mohammed" Facebook page. " Having received a number of death threats from the al-Qaeda Imam Anwar al-Awlaqi, Matthias Rüb reports, she has now disappeared into hiding: "The woman who goes by this name has ceased to exist. Otherwise she faced certain death... Molly Norris will now be spoken of in the same breath as Theo van Gogh, Lars Vilks and Kurt Westergaard, better still, shouted from the rooftops. Except that there is no woman who can still go by this name, for fear of her life."




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Berliner Zeitung
22.09.2010

Peter Uehling pens a critical but not loveless article on Pierre Boulez, who featured prominently in person, in his role as conductor and with his own compositions, at the Berlin Festspiele. Uehling tends to find Boulez' crescendo-free "Germanic structural thinking" and "North-Korean adherence to progress" rather dull. But this seems to be mellowing with age: "In 'Derive 2' for 11 instruments, at least under Barenboim, there is a passage towards the end of the hour-long version from 2006, in which the relentless permutations of the arabesque give way for a moment to the solo singing of individual instruments, among them the horn which in 'Pli selon pli' accompanies the words of death. Boulez always breaks off these moments, almost in an act of self-censorship as if to prevent the music becoming too overbearing. For all its schizophrenia, there is something moving about this passage, as if in old age a personal touch had dared to raise its head."


Frankfurter Rundschau 23.09.2010

How on earth did Unesco come up with the idea of staging World Philosophy Day in Tehran of all places? The Iranian-Canadian philosopher Ramin Jahanbegloo, who is not exactly enamoured of the idea, reports, for example, that the Iranian regime has declared a "soft war" against Western philosophy, which it blames for the "loss of belief". "To read and discuss philosophical texts in Tehran goes beyond mere pleasure or edification, it is always a political gesture. A gesture of resistance, as long as the philosophising is not merely serving the interests of the theocratic regime – as Unesco seems willing to condone it. Resistance against the restrictions of dogma and undemocratic thinking, against thinking which has long ceased to be a search for the truth."


Süddeutsche Zeitung
23.09.2010

The Chinese reporter and author of "The Corpse Walker" Liao Yiwu has been allowed to leave China for the first time to attend the literature festivals in Berlin and Hamburg. Alex Rühle met up with him in a pub in Hamburg: "After trying his coffee, he pulled a bottle of Chinese schnapps from his rucksack, 'It's probably not allowed in here, is it?" He hides it away again, adding: "The most important tool of the job. I don't need paper, my memory is well trained from being in prison, but I do need schnapps. When people fall silent in grief, I give them a few glasses of this stuff to get them going again."

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From the Feuilletons

Saturday 11 - 17 December, 2010

A clutch of German newspapers launch an appeal against the criminalisation of Wikileaks. Vera Lengsfeld remembers GDR dissident Jürgen Fuchs and how he met death in his cell. All the papers were bowled over Xavier Beauvois' film "Of Gods and Men." The FR enjoys a joke but not a picnic at a staging of Stravinsky's "Rake's Progress" in Berlin. Gustav Seibt provides a lurid description of Napoleonic soap in the SZ. German-Turkish Dogan Akhanli author explains what it feels like to be Josef K.
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From the Feuilletons

Saturday 4 - Friday 10 December

Colombian writer Hector Abad defends Nobel Prize laureate Mario Vargas Llosa against European Latin-America romantics. Wikileaks dissident Daniel Domscheit-Berg criticises the new publication policy of his former employer. The Sprengel Museum has put on a show of child nudes by die Brücke artists. The SZ takes a walk through the Internet woods with FAZ prophet of doom Frank Schirrmacher. The FAZ is troubled by Christian Thielemann's unstable tempo in the Beethoven cycle. And the FR meets China Free Press publisher, Bao Pu.
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From the feuilletons

Saturday 27 November - Friday 3 December

Danish author Frederik Stjernfelt explains how the Left got its culturist ideas. Slavenka Draculic writes about censoring Angelina Jolie who wanted to make a film in Bosnia. Daniel Cohn-Bendit talks   about his friendship, falling out and reconciliation with Jean-Luc Godard. Wikileaks has caused an embarrassed silence in the Arab world, where not even al-Jazeera reported on the what the sheiks really think. Alan Posener calls for the Hannah Arendt Institute in Dresden to be shut down.
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From the Feuilletons

Saturday 20 - Friday 26 November, 2010

The theatre event of the week came in a twin pack: Roland Schimmelpfennig's new play, a post-colonial "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" opened at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin and the Thalia in Hamburg. The anarchist pamphlet "The Coming Insurrection" has at last been translated into German and has ignited the revolutionary sympathies of at least two leading German broadsheets, the FAZ and the SZ. But the taz, Germany's left-wing daily, says the pamphlet is strongly right-wing. What's left and right anyway? came the reply.
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From the Feuilletons

Saturday 13 - Friday 19 November, 2010

Dieter Schlesak levels grave accusations against his former friend and colleague, Oskar Pastior, who spied on him for the Securitate. Banat-Swabian author and vice chairman of the Oskar Pastior Foundation, Ernest Wichner, turns on Schlesak for spreading malicious rumours. Die Zeit portrays the Berlin rapper Harris, and the moment he knew he was German. Dutch author Cees Nooteboom meditates on the near lust for physical torture in the paintings of Francisco de Zurburan. An exhibition in Mannheim displays the dream house photography of Julius Schulman.
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From the Feuilletons

Saturday 6 - Friday 12 November, 2010

The NZZ asks why banks invest in art. The FAZ gawps at the unnatural stack of stomach muscles in Michelangelo's drawings. The taz witnesses a giant step for the "Yugo palaver". Bernard-Henri Levy describes Sakineh Ashtiani's impending execution as a test for Iran and the west. Journalist Michael Anti talks about the healthy relationship between the net and the Chinese media. Literary academic Helmut Lethen describes how Ernst Jünger stripped the worker of all organic substances.
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From the Feuilletons

Saturday 30 October - Friday 5 November, 2010

Now that German TV has just beatified Pope Pius XII, Rolf Hochmuth tells die Welt where he got the idea for his play "The Deputy". The FR celebrates Elfriede Jelinek's "brilliantly malicious" farce about the collapse of the Cologne City Archive. "Carlos" director Olivier Assayas makes it clear that the revolutionary subject is a figment of the imagination. The SZ returns from the Shanghai Expo with a cloying after-taste of sweet 'n' sour. And historian Wang Hui tells the NZZ that China's intellectuals have plenty of freedom to pose critical questions.
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From the Feuilletons

Saturday 23 - Friday 29 October, 2010

Author Doron Rabinovici protests against the concessions of moderate Austrian politicians to the FPÖ: recently in Vienna, children were sent back to Kosovo at gunpoint. Ian McEwan wonders why major German novelists didn't mention the Wall. The NZZ looks through the Priz Goncourt shortlist and finds plenty of writers with more bite than Houellebecq. The FAZ outs two of Germany's leading journalists who fiercely guarded the German Foreign Ministry's Nazi past. Jens-Martin Eriksen and Frederik Stjernfelt analyse the symptoms of culturalism, left and right. Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht demonstratively yawns at German debate.
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From the Feuilletons

Saturday 16 - Friday 22 October, 2010

A new book chronicles the revolt of revolting "third persons" at Suhrkamp publishers in the wild days of 1968. Necla Kelek is appalled by the speech of the very Christian Christian Wulff, the German president, in Turkey. The taz met a new faction of hardcore Palestinians who are fighting for separate sex hairdressing in Gaza. Sinologist Andreas Schlieker reports on the new Chinese willingness to restructure the heart. And the Cologne band Erdmöbel celebrate the famous halo around the frying pan.
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From the Feuilletons

Saturday 9 - Friday 15 October, 2010

The FR laps up the muscular male bodies and bellies at the Michelangelo exhibition in the Viennese Albertina. The same paper is outraged by the cowardice of the Berlin exhibition "Hitler and the Germans". Mario Vargas-Llosa remembers a bad line from Sweden. Theologist Friedrich Wilhelm Graf makes it very clear that Western values are not Judaeo-Christian values. The Achse des Guten is annoyed by the attempts of the mainstream media to dismiss Mario Vargas-Llosa. The NZZ celebrates the tireless self-demolition of Polish writer and satirist Slawomir Mrozek.
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From the feuilletons

Saturday 2 - Friday 8 October, 2010

Nigerian writer Niyi Osundare explains why his country has become uninhabitable. German Book Prize winner Melinda Nadj Abonji says Switzerland only pretends to be liberal. German author Monika Maron is not sure that Islam really does belong to Germany. Russian writer Oleg Yuriev explains the disastrous effects of postmodernism on the Petersburg Hermitage. Argentinian author Martin Caparros describes how the Kirchners have co-opted the country's revolutionary history. And publisher Damian Tabarovsky explains why 2001 was such an explosively creative year for Argentina.
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From the Feuilletons

Saturday 25 September - Friday 1 October

Three East German theatre directors talk about the trauma of reunification. In the FAZ, Thilo Sarrazin denies accusations that his book propagates eugenics: "I am interested in the interplay of nature and nurture." Polemics are being drowned out by blaring lullabies, author Thea Dorn despairs. Author Iris Radisch is dismayed by the state of the German novel - too much idle chatter, not enough literary clout. Der Spiegel posts its interview with the German WikiLeaks spokesman, Daniel Schmitt. And Vaclav Havel's appeal to award the Nobel prize to Liu Xiabobo has the Chinese authorities pulling out their hair.
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From the Feuilletons

Saturday 10 - Friday 17 September, 2010

The poet Oskar Pastior was a Securitate informant, the historian Stefan Sienerth has discovered. Biologist Veronika Lipphardt dismisses Thilo Sarrazin's incendiary intelligence theories as a load of codswallop. A number of prominent Muslim intellectuals in Germany have written an open letter to President Christian Wulff, calling for him to "make a stand for a democratic culture based on mutual respect." And a Shell study has revealed that Germany's youth aspire to be just like their parents.
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From the Feuilletons

Saturday 4 - Friday 10 September, 2010

Thilo Sarrazin has buckled under the stress of the past two weeks and resigned from the board of the Central Bank. His book, "Germany is abolishing itself", however, continues to keep Germany locked in a debate about education and immigration and intelligence. Also this week, Mohammed cartoonist Kurt Westergaard has been awarded the M100 prize for defending freedom of opinion. Chancellor Angela Merkel gave a speech at the award ceremony: "The secret of freedom is courage". The FAZ interviewed Westergaard, who expressed his disappointment that the only people who had shown him no support were those of his own class.
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